FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Marcus Maye spent the first few weeks of training camp mostly as a frustrated spectator.
The third-year safety worked out on the side, in the infirmary, with other players who couldn’t participate in practice. Maye tried to stay positive but admitted that returning from season-ending shoulder surgery took longer than he expected.
He got some good news from the training staff Saturday: He would be cleared for practice. The Jets officially activated him on Sunday from the PUP list.
Maye, who had a nerve issue after season-ending shoulder surgery last year, still did some watching as the Jets continue to be cautious with him, but he took part in all individual drills and 7-on-7 play.
“It felt great,” he said. “It’s been a long process. But just getting out there running around, getting a feel of things, being out there with the guys, it definitely feels good to be back.
“I’ve been itching to get back for a while.”
It came as somewhat of a surprise that Maye wasn’t ready when camp started after he was able to participate in individual drills and 7-on-7 work during minicamp and OTAs. But coach Adam Gase said last week that he was dealing with a nerve issue. He had to get to a certain strength level before he could practice, and he achieved that.
“I’m just glad he can’t bother me about it anymore,” Gase said. “He’s been begging me to get out there. We’re trying to be smart with putting him out there. We didn’t want to be wrong. If we were a little cautious, that was fine. We were all in agreement that we wanted to make sure he was in a good spot to where he can start hitting, just making sure his strength was up. That was the key to everything.”
The Jets took Maye in the second round in 2017 after picking fellow safety Jamal Adams sixth overall that year. They appeared set at the position for years after both had impressive rookie seasons.
Maye started all 16 games in 2017, making 78 tackles and two interceptions, but he had ankle surgery after the season. Last year, he had ankle, thumb and shoulder injuries that kept him out of 10 games. He made 34 tackles and had a 104-yard interception return and a forced fumble in limited action.
He hasn’t played since Nov. 11, so the Jets will continue to take it slowly with him. But Gase sounds excited about the Adams-Maye tandem.
“It’s just going to be a progression,” he said. “He’s doing some things where he’s hitting some sleds. We’re just trying to make sure he feels right. It’s good to see him out there, though. He’s a really good player. With him and 33 [Adams] out there, I feel pretty good.”
Rontez Miles, who has started in Maye’s place, has impressed Gase enough that he will have a role even when Maye is fully healthy and playing without limitations. Maye looks forward to doing that and showing his new head coach and new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams what kind of impact he can have.
“Every day you have something to prove,” Maye said. “Coach always says every day is an interview, so you got to come to work prepared to work.
“You never get too comfortable. New coaching staff. New front office. You just got to put your head down and come to work every day. That’s what I’ve been doing, trying to get back out there with the guys.”